IX SEARCH OF AN ARTIST 117
and highly stylized techniques (his early work had strong affinities
with Van Gogh) but the perennial source of his inspiration is the
folk art of Bengal, which is strong and gay and masculine.
He is an interesting person. Finding himself stifled by the deadly
atmosphere of commercial Calcutta, he cut short a career which
had every promise of success and fled to a remote village? where
he proceeded to remodel his life, and his art, anew. This is how
he set about it :
"The first thing he did was to change his palette* He left the
European colours he had been employing for those that are found
in nature and are used by the villagers. For the yellow ochre he
adopted the holy mat i and for bright yellow, haritaL The Indian
red he obtained from gen mail, blue from indigo, white from kak
khori and white clay, black from burnt coconut shells and soot at
the bottom of cooking vessels.'1
In any other country Roy's art would have attracted numerous
disciples. He would have founded a "school.5 That he has not
done so in India is presumably due to the fact that he is completely
free from either religious or political prejudices ; there is nothing
in his painting to tell you whether he is a Hindu or a Muslim or
a Christian ; he simply looks life in the face and paints it. That is
something which is quite beyond the comprehension of his con-
temporaries, to whom art must always be the handmaiden of
politics which, in its turn, is the handmaiden of religion.
There was only one other "art centre' of any importance in
India which I might have visited. It was called Shantiniketan,
and this chapter would not be complete without a word about it.
Shantiniketan means 'The Abode of Peace/ and it lies high up
in the hills near Darjeeling. It was founded some forty years ago
by Rabmdranath Tagore, who had an idea of turning it into a
university. The university never materialized, but his brother,
Abanindranath Tagore, developed it as an art school., and such
it is to-day.
It has a great reputation throughout India. So, for that matter,
has anything even vaguely connected with Rabindranath Tagore.
Of course, if you are among those who think that Tagore was one
Prefaces, by ShaMd SnBrawardy, Professor of Fine Arts at Calcutta